Is it rude to eat in public in Japan?

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Is it rude to eat in public in Japan?

I read somewhere that the Japanese consider it impolite to eat in public places. Of course, restaurants and areas designated with tables are fine, but I’m talking about buses, subways, in the street, etc.

I recall when I did visit Osaka one time years ago… I saw several Japanese people doing, it so I figured why not?

Is eating while walking down the street rude if you’re alone, or is it perfectly acceptable if you and your foreign or Japanese friends are munching and moving down the sidewalk?

But, I’d imagine it’s rude to walk and eat in a lot of countries, not just Japan though.

I assume it’s okay on the Limited Express trains or Shinkansen because they actually serve small meals on these trains.

Probably not illegal, but I’m sure the locals would frown on me if I ate at Big Mac or slice of pizza on the subway, mostly because of the smell…. Any other reasons?

Then again… given the public politeness of the Japanese people, I would find it hard to imagine a Japanese commuter approaching me on the subway and saying “throw that food out or you get out”!

Regardless, eating food in public might perpetuate certain stereotypes that some Japanese people may have of foreigners. That gaijin is low class, inconsiderate of Japan’s culture, etc….

I guess it really comes down to being respectful of other people (no matter what country you are in), or on the contrary… not caring what other people even think.

In what other situations would eating in public be okay in Japan? After all…cities like Tokyo are crowded and getting a seat at a table, isn’t always easy.

If you polled 100 Japanese people, they’d probably say eating in public is rude. But that depends on the age of the people you polled, of course. The younger generation may not care, but middle age to the elderly wouldn’t approve.

I’m sure some people eat in public (simply of necessity or just by freedom of choice) but it’s unlikely you’ll be called out in public for it.

So…. I just guess it’s kind of a grey area, don’t you think? Perhaps a good conversation topic for an ESL class in any Asian country…

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